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Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (young-adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic) Synopsis: It’s almost the end of Miranda’s sophomore year in high school, and her journal reflects the busy life of a typical teenager. When Miranda first begins hearing the reports of a meteor on a collision course with the moon, it hardly seems worth a mention in her diary. But after the meteor hits, pushing the moon off its axis and causing worldwide earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, all the things Miranda used to take for granted begin to disappear. Read more…
Review: I warn you, this is going to make me sound a little odd, if not insane: I read this book in bed, on the way to work, whenever I had free time. I’d be walking along the road thinking about how it’s probably good that someone shared their lunch with me today because we need to save food. And it’s really grey today. Damn those volcanic ash clouds blocking the sun. I imagined all the food we’d stock up on. What would be like to bring back cars full of tinned and jarred food? I need to remember to stock up on chocolate. And then I’d snap out of it (“Wait. What?”). I felt so completely absorbed in this novel that I actually felt like it was happening to me. It is told in diary form, which reminded me of first-hand accounts that they show on the news when there’s some sort of catastrophe, like with the recent tsunami disaster in Japan. These accounts make you understand what’s happening to different groups of people without being there. That’s what was happening with me. The story is very simply told (which I found realistic as 16-year-olds’ diaries often aren’t literary masterpieces), and it won’t convert you if you dislike young-adult literature, but I think this is why I felt more engaged with it. It is very different from adult post-apocalyptic fiction, such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is less brutal and less harrowing, but that’s probably why I could relate to it more. I was so disengaged with the events happening in The Road, which meant that it had less of an impact on me, whereas Life As We Knew is about a family struggling to cope after a meteor crashes into the moon, causing the orbit to be altered. Civilisation isn’t wiped out completely but it forces people to adapt very quickly to a utterly different way of daily living. The family is only able to find out what’s happening in the rest of the world (many, many deaths, famine, volcanic eruptions, flooding) through rare radio broadcasts. Mostly, it’s just Miranda’s thoughts and her account of life with her mother and her two brothers, confined to their home, wondering if they’re going to live or die.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can see why it has received so much praise. I’m unsure as to whether I’ll read the next two books, The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In, as the reviews are pretty bad. But we’ll see. I’m now really excited about the prospect of reading more YA post-apocalyptic novels such as America Pacifica and Ashes, Ashes. Hooray! Another genre to love. My Rating: ★★★★★Goodreads Average Rating: ★★★★36/50 books read for 50 Book Challenge #3

Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (young-adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic)

Synopsis: It’s almost the end of Miranda’s sophomore year in high school, and her journal reflects the busy life of a typical teenager. When Miranda first begins hearing the reports of a meteor on a collision course with the moon, it hardly seems worth a mention in her diary. But after the meteor hits, pushing the moon off its axis and causing worldwide earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, all the things Miranda used to take for granted begin to disappear. Read more…

Review:
I warn you, this is going to make me sound a little odd, if not insane: I read this book in bed, on the way to work, whenever I had free time. I’d be walking along the road thinking about how it’s probably good that someone shared their lunch with me today because we need to save food. And it’s really grey today. Damn those volcanic ash clouds blocking the sun. I imagined all the food we’d stock up on. What would be like to bring back cars full of tinned and jarred food? I need to remember to stock up on chocolate.

And then I’d snap out of it (“Wait. What?”). I felt so completely absorbed in this novel that I actually felt like it was happening to me. It is told in diary form, which reminded me of first-hand accounts that they show on the news when there’s some sort of catastrophe, like with the recent tsunami disaster in Japan. These accounts make you understand what’s happening to different groups of people without being there. That’s what was happening with me.

The story is
very simply told (which I found realistic as 16-year-olds’ diaries often aren’t literary masterpieces), and it won’t convert you if you dislike young-adult literature, but I think this is why I felt more engaged with it. It is very different from adult post-apocalyptic fiction, such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is less brutal and less harrowing, but that’s probably why I could relate to it more. I was so disengaged with the events happening in The Road, which meant that it had less of an impact on me, whereas Life As We Knew is about a family struggling to cope after a meteor crashes into the moon, causing the orbit to be altered. Civilisation isn’t wiped out completely but it forces people to adapt very quickly to a utterly different way of daily living. The family is only able to find out what’s happening in the rest of the world (many, many deaths, famine, volcanic eruptions, flooding) through rare radio broadcasts. Mostly, it’s just Miranda’s thoughts and her account of life with her mother and her two brothers, confined to their home, wondering if they’re going to live or die.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can see why it has received so much praise. I’m unsure as to whether I’ll read the next two books, The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In, as the reviews are pretty bad. But we’ll see. I’m now really excited about the prospect of reading more YA post-apocalyptic novels such as America Pacifica and Ashes, Ashes. Hooray! Another genre to love.

My Rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads Average Rating: ★★★★
36/50 books read for 50 Book Challenge #3

I've been looking for a blog like yours for so long! I'm very into books also. I think it's so great that you're making a career of books. I'm an English major here in the U.S and hope to either teach or work in editing. And by looking at the books you have read I see that we have similar tastes! <3

Definitely one of my new favorite blogs!

Asked by breezyclass-deactivated20120425

Thank you very much :] I’ve wondered from time to time what it would’ve been like studying English at university. I really wish I had taken some elective courses. Good luck with your future career!

Hello! I just wanted to let you know that, because of your posts about The Hunger Games, I finally ordered myself a copy from Amazon. It arrived yesterday and I read it in about five hours, haha. Very gripping stuff! So I just wanted to say thanks for the recommendation! :]

Asked by silly-suzi-goose

Hooray! That’s awesome! If only my friends would do the same… only one listened to me and he devoured the books in a few days. It’s frustrating because I know two of them would love them, but they refuse to listen :’(

I’m glad you loved it :]

Just wondering if you have any Adult Fiction to recommend.

Asked by ton-tongue-toffee

I’ve read so much young-adult fiction lately. I really need to take a break eventually and read some adult fiction, which is why I made a post here. There’s hundreds of adult fiction recommendations for you to choose from!

Adult fiction that I’ve personally enjoyed recently is: Sister by Rosamund Lupton, Pride and Prejudice, One Day, Oryx and Crake & The Handmaid’s Tale, Never Let Me Go, Animal Farm, and The Restorer by Amanda Stevens. There are also old favourites such as The Time Traveler’s Wife, Jodi Picoult books, and the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.

Review: Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (young-adult, science fiction, dystopia)Synopsis:"War," says the Mayor.  "At last." Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on  destroying the others. Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no  chance of escape. As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the  fighting? How can there ever be peace when they&#8217;re so hopelessly  outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices  await? But then a third voice breaks into the battle, one bent on  revenge - the electrifying finale to the award-winning "Chaos Walking"  trilogy, Monsters of Men is a heart-stopping novel about power, survival, and the devastating realities of war.  Read more&#8230; 
Review:NOTE: This review may contain spoilers.I feel like I’ve just come home after completing one huge journey: a journey consisting of 1,598 pages in less than 9 days. I have visited a new planet, met a mysterious alien population, been acquainted with talking animals and their &#8220;Noisy&#8221; owners, and witnessed a violet and brutal war. It has been emotionally exhausting as well as tremendously exciting. There’s only the short novella, The New World, left to read - a prequel to the series that was published around the same time as Monsters of Men was released. The series has been written, published and loved by thousands of young people, and so we must come full circle to look at Viola’s journey to Todd’s planet, whilst aware about the battle, and the agony, she is about to face. But for now, I must comment on the final instalment of the Chaos Walking trilogy. Monsters of Men, to put it simply, is one long, drawn-out, war. From start to finish, there are disagreements and battles between groups: the women, the men, and the Spackle. In this book, we get another additional viewpoint. We finally hear the Spackle’s point of view and understand what it’s like to be the enemy. Even so, I still found it difficult to imagine what these peculiar, misunderstood creatures looked like. I still couldn’t imagine their white bodies with lichen growing on them. I couldn’t imagine being able to communicate with no verbal or written language (and no sign-language, either).  Nevertheless, the new viewpoint was interesting and insightful. It definitely added more emotion to the story and meant that empathising was easier, which lead to the difficult question: which side should I be on? I haven’t discussed this before, but Patrick Ness’s writing is extraordinarily unique. The characters’ thoughts (the verbal Noise) are written in different fonts. The grammar is unconventional. The dialogue is disjointed, for example, Todd’s thoughts have many line breaks. His words are often spelled phonetically. But, I never once found it irritating (although, this isn’t true for everyone else). I think you just have to accept that our rules of language do not apply on this planet. You have to be open-minded to a different way of retelling a story, as that it what it feels like when reading the books.Monsters of Men throws up many surprises although I do think it needn’t have been as lengthy as it was. It is a direct continuation from The Ask and the Answer but I felt that the issues were not as significant (maybe I had just become desensitised?) and I did not find this book to be as memorable as the first two. Even so, I can’t offer any sort of explanation of how I think the storyline should have gone. War is a futile, destructive force, and rationality is not always capable of rising out of chaos. I’m not sure what I’d have done differently. The feeling of helplessness was felt throughout the novel and I like to think that New Prentisstown was able to finally find faith. I do not mean a faith in a religious sense, but faith in each other; more accepting that individuals with contrasting cultures and views are able to cohabit peacefully. I cannot imagine being able to forgive the people who massacred my town, but I cannot imagine a future full of conflict and violence, either.I love the ending of Monsters of Men. I won’t give anything away but it summed up the trilogy perfectly: uncertainties can be a terrible thing to experience. It can lead to misery, distrust and conflict, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll lead to the best thing that’s ever happened.I’m glad I finally decided to read this trilogy and if you’re unafraid of difference, of individuality, you’ll love it too.
My Rating: ★★★★Goodreads Average Rating: ★★★★35/50 books read for 50 Book Challenge #3

Review: Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (young-adult, science fiction, dystopia)

Synopsis:
"War," says the Mayor. "At last." Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on destroying the others. Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no chance of escape. As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the fighting? How can there ever be peace when they’re so hopelessly outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices await? But then a third voice breaks into the battle, one bent on revenge - the electrifying finale to the award-winning "Chaos Walking" trilogy, Monsters of Men is a heart-stopping novel about power, survival, and the devastating realities of war.  Read more…

Review:
NOTE: This review may contain spoilers.
I feel like I’ve just come home after completing one huge journey: a journey consisting of 1,598 pages in less than 9 days. I have visited a new planet, met a mysterious alien population, been acquainted with talking animals and their “Noisy” owners, and witnessed a violet and brutal war. It has been emotionally exhausting as well as tremendously exciting. There’s only the short novella, The New World, left to read - a prequel to the series that was published around the same time as Monsters of Men was released. The series has been written, published and loved by thousands of young people, and so we must come full circle to look at Viola’s journey to Todd’s planet, whilst aware about the battle, and the agony, she is about to face.

But for now, I must comment on the final instalment of the Chaos Walking trilogy. Monsters of Men, to put it simply, is one long, drawn-out, war. From start to finish, there are disagreements and battles between groups: the women, the men, and the Spackle. In this book, we get another additional viewpoint. We finally hear the Spackle’s point of view and understand what it’s like to be the enemy. Even so, I still found it difficult to imagine what these peculiar, misunderstood creatures looked like. I still couldn’t imagine their white bodies with lichen growing on them. I couldn’t imagine being able to communicate with no verbal or written language (and no sign-language, either).  Nevertheless, the new viewpoint was interesting and insightful. It definitely added more emotion to the story and meant that empathising was easier, which lead to the difficult question: which side should I be on?

I haven’t discussed this before, but Patrick Ness’s writing is extraordinarily unique. The characters’ thoughts (the verbal Noise) are written in different fonts. The grammar is unconventional. The dialogue is disjointed, for example, Todd’s thoughts have many line breaks. His words are often spelled phonetically. But, I never once found it irritating (although, this isn’t true for everyone else). I think you just have to accept that our rules of language do not apply on this planet. You have to be open-minded to a different way of retelling a story, as that it what it feels like when reading the books.

Monsters of Men throws up many surprises although I do think it needn’t have been as lengthy as it was. It is a direct continuation from The Ask and the Answer but I felt that the issues were not as significant (maybe I had just become desensitised?) and I did not find this book to be as memorable as the first two. Even so, I can’t offer any sort of explanation of how I think the storyline should have gone. War is a futile, destructive force, and rationality is not always capable of rising out of chaos. I’m not sure what I’d have done differently. The feeling of helplessness was felt throughout the novel and I like to think that New Prentisstown was able to finally find faith. I do not mean a faith in a religious sense, but faith in each other; more accepting that individuals with contrasting cultures and views are able to cohabit peacefully. I cannot imagine being able to forgive the people who massacred my town, but I cannot imagine a future full of conflict and violence, either.

I love the ending of Monsters of Men. I won’t give anything away but it summed up the trilogy perfectly: uncertainties can be a terrible thing to experience. It can lead to misery, distrust and conflict, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll lead to the best thing that’s ever happened.

I’m glad I finally decided to read this trilogy and if you’re unafraid of difference, of individuality, you’ll love it too.

My Rating: ★★★★
Goodreads Average Rating: ★★★★
35/50 books read for 50 Book Challenge #3